Committed to the advancement, extension, improvement and coordination of Earth Science education across all levels

February 2014 Elementary News and Notes

This month's photo demonstrates the cryosphere in action! You can view this image and past/future images geospatially located on a map at:

BREAKING NEWS! A New Elementary Resource... Monthly Articles from NASA's Space Place!

We are thrilled to announce that PAESTA is partnering with NASA's Space Place to provide you with monthly articles on fascinating space science topics! Written for an upper elementary school audience (as well as for teachers and parents), this monthly feature will be posted every month on the PAESTA website and easily identifiable with the logo seen here to the left.  Below is a summary of the February 2014 article:

A Two-Toned Wonder from the Saturnian Outskirts  --  When Giovanni Cassini first discovered Saturn's Moon Iapetus in 1671, he noticed something strange. It could only be seen when it was on the west side of Saturn. Cassini concluded two things: Iapetus was tidally locked with Saturn, and one of its sides must be brighter than the other—an idea confirmed by modern observations. But it hasn't been until recently that we have known the cause of Iapetus' two-toned exterior. The culprit, it turns out, may surprise you!  Click here to read the full article.

New NSTA Position Statement: Early Childhood Science Education

In January, NSTA approved a new position statement on Early Childhood Science Education. This document will serve as a guide for early childhood care providers, childcare directors, directors of informal science learning centers, researchers, teachers, principals, school boards, and those involved in writing curriculum or standards for science teaching of children ages 3 to 5. View this new statement as well as other Science Education Position Statements at the PAESTA website.

Free Articles from NSTA's Science and Children

NSTA's Science and Children is a peer-reviewed practitioners' journal for preK-5 science teachers.  Each issue has at least one article available online to read for free, with no NSTA membership necessary.  You might be interested in checking out the following articles: The eBook Hook, Making Connections Between the Digital and Physical World, Assessing for Achievement, Wacky Weather, and The Moon Challenge.

Maps of Pennsylvania - Teacher Lesson Plans from PA DCNR

These lesson plans are designed to accompany the Digital Shaded-Relief Map of Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Land Cover Map, both published by the United States Geological Survey and the Pennsylvania Geological Survey. They were written by experienced educators who created activities that ask students to begin with information provided by the maps and to do additional research to learn about how, where, and why our state has developed as it has. Although the lessons list suggested grade levels, you are encouraged to read through all of them, since each contains ideas that may be adapted to any grade. You will also find that they are appropriate for cross-curricular units in science and social studies.

Visit the Maps of Pennsylvania website to explore resources for elementary, middle, and high school.

New NASA Online Resource - NASA Wavelength Digital Library

NASA has a new online science resource for teachers and students to help bring Earth, the solar system, and the universe into their schools and homes. Called NASA Wavelength, the site features hundreds of resources organized by topic and audience level from elementary to college, and out-of-school programs that span the extent of NASA science. Educators at all levels can find educational resources through information on standards, subjects, keywords, and other details, such as learning time required to carry out a lesson or an activity, cost of materials and more. Teachers can identify resources relevant to specific themes and current events, such as Geography Awareness Week and lessons dealing with NASA's Curiosity rover or using Earth science resources. For access to NASA Wavelength, visit To learn more about NASA education programs, see

There are 859 educator resources in the Elementary Education category. Start your exploration by visiting the Elementary School section of the website today!

National Parks’ Web Rangers Explore Geoscience

The National Park Service wants people of all ages to learn about the national parks by becoming a Web Ranger! For example, their interactive website allows you to enter White Sands National Monument in New Mexico from your computer and identify animal tracks left in the 275 square miles of gypsum dunes that give the park its name.

“Rock Around the Park,” another geoscience activity for Web Rangers, shows how erosion has shaped the landscapes of national parks such as Arches National Park in Utah and Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. Or you can explore over 220 national parks with fossils, including dinosaur fossils. Learn about what dinosaurs munched on millions of years ago in “Dino Diets.”

Find all this and more on the Web Rangers site. Play more than 50 games, invent a Web Ranger name, create a personalized ranger badge, and start learning about Earth science in the national parks at

One Ocean - A Teaching Guide for Grades 3-8

National Geographic has developed a guide to support teachers in teaching topics with real-world context, and provide them with the background to feel competent and comfortable when teaching about the ocean. It provides a solid introduction to the ocean and the ocean literacy principles in an accessible and reader-friendly manner. In addition to general information about the ocean, the guide includes numerous education features, such as teaching tips and student thinking, that help to connect the content to classroom practice. To download the guide, visit:

Elementary GLOBE

Engage your K-4 students in Earth system science with Elementary GLOBE. This instructional unit introduces science content through five science-based storybooks and 15 classroom learning activities. The resources provide students with a basic understanding of the methods of inquiry and connections to literacy, math, and technology skills. Books and activities are freely available at:

Antarctic Rock Box

The Polar Rock Repository, located at the Byrd Polar Research Center, is a national facility that provides rock samples for research, education, and museum use under a no-cost loan program. Their Antarctic Rock Box comes with more than 30 samples of rocks, minerals and fossils (many of which are from Antarctica), as well as lessons and books about rocks, minerals, and the polar regions. Teachers can keep the box for up to one month, and the Polar Rock Repository pays for shipping both ways. To learn more and discover how you can order your Antarctic Rock Box, visit:

Nominations for PAEMST Now Being Accepted

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the nation's highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science (including computer science). Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education. The 2014 Awards will honor mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers working in grades K-6. Nominations close on April 1, 2014. Nominate a teacher at:

Teaching Resources for Understanding Science 101

Understanding Science is a free resource from the University of California Museum of Paleontology that accurately communicates what science is and how it really works — and that helps K-16 teachers reinforce the nature and process of science throughout their science teaching. They provide a variety of resources at different levels for students, teachers, and the general public, to help you increase student understanding of the nature and process of science. To improve your own content knowledge, explore Understanding Science 101 and their resource library. To prepare yourself with lesson plans, teaching tips, and pedagogical strategies, visit a Teacher's Lounge or explore the all-level resources (grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12). 
Copyright © 2014 PAESTA (Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association), All rights reserved.
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